‘Amazing’ community support rallies in hope of keeping Hampstead’s Pentameters Theatre going

PUBLISHED: 19:15 12 August 2020

Léonie Scott-Matthews and Godfrey Old of Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead. Picture: Daniel Daniel

Léonie Scott-Matthews and Godfrey Old of Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead. Picture: Daniel Daniel


The woman behind the oldest fringe theatre in London, Hampstead’s Pentameters, has been “amazed” by support from members of the community and famous names, as she looks to raise £8,000.

Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead. Picture: Daniel DanielPentameters Theatre, Hampstead. Picture: Daniel Daniel

Léonie Scott-Matthews has run the theatre in Hampstead since 1968, and it has been in its current home, above the Horseshoe pub in Heath Street, since 1971. Now, after lockdown, she’s looking to raise £8,000 to cover rent and health and safety improvements to the building so Pentameters can continue into 2021 and beyond.

Léonie told the Ham&High: “We are completely reliant on people coming to see shows, so naturally in lockdown there’s been now income. We have also had a major health and safety check, and when that happens in a building first built in the 1890s, there are always things that need fixing.”

READ MORE: Hampstead’s Pentameter’s theatre needs £8,000 to ‘stay alive’

She continued: “What’s been amazing is these young people who have come in and said: ‘You helped us when we were teenagers, now we want to help you.’ They set up this company to fundraise and have lots of ideas.

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“I have always been a one-woman-band - I haven’t had staff to furlough. At the end of the day my friends and family rally round, but essentially it’s me.”

Léonie said during lockdown she was keen to keep the spirit of the theatre alive, whether putting on a one-woman show and a tableau visible from the window to entertain the Tesco queue, or running invite-only versions of the popular Moon on the Water open mic night with just six visitors.

The building’s freeholder is Camden Council but Léonie pays rent to Camden Town Brewery, which runs the pub. She said the company had been a helpful landlord, but added: “I don’t want to be obligated to anybody. At the end of September I’ve said I want to be able to pay my rent.”

The fundraiser has raised more than a quarter of the £8,000 target and Léonie said she had been stunned.

“All sorts of people have been sending money, and they have been saying hugely generous things about Pentameters. People I don’t know, who I didn’t know even knew about us – like the playwright David Hare, for example,” she said.


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